The River | 2019
a digital publication by the Texas Council on Family Violence
As we approach Teen Dating Violence and Prevention and Awareness Month, we are excited to introduce you to our newly imagined digital newsletter. This newsletter includes several features we hope you will find interesting and informative:
• Prevention Educator Interviews | coming soon…
We hope your work is continuously infused with opportunities for connecting communities with the important messages around teen dating violence and prevention. You all are vital champions for this work, as you labor in communities to meet stakeholders where they are and gently bring them to the understanding of what is upholding violence in our communities. Prevention is important! Your work is vital to the overall mission of ending gender-based violence. As you proceed along your mission, remember that we are sowing the seeds of change for future generations. At TCFV, we compare primary prevention to a marathon, not a sprint. In the words of the incomparable Audre Lorde, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
As always, we hope to continue to support your agencies as they work to bring an end to family violence. Connect with us online at TCFV Prevention Educator of Texas Facebook group.
Honoring Texas Victims
In 2017, Texas lost 6 young women, ages 19-years-old or younger, to intimate partner violence. This February, we mourn and honor their lives. Find out more about Texas victims and these young women in the 2017 Honoring Texas Victim Report.
Amber Flores, 19
Houston | February 22, 2017
Cayley Mandadi, 19
Schertz |October 31, 2017
Kaitlyn Trammell, 18
Galveston |August 1, 2017
Natalie Tavares, 18
Dallas |May 21, 2017
Sommer Gatto, 18
Houston |September 19, 2017
Tristan Dilley, 14
Buna |October 1, 2017
Young Hearts Matter Awards
Young Hearts Matter (YHM) is a Texas campaign that works to prevent dating abuse and support young people and adult allies who are working for change. Young Hearts Matter is celebrated during the month of February with awards given to an Activist and Advocate of the year, as well as a Texas Partner for Change.
Activist of the Year
This award recognizes a young person who has been a driving force for social change among their peers and has done significant work to promote awareness and prevention of dating abuse in their community or school.
Isaiah Rogers | 2019 Activist of the Year
Isaiah’s colleagues and mentors wrote these words to describe him:
Throughout his eight years in Creative Action and SAFE Alliance programming, Isaiah Rogers has developed a powerful voice. He has performed at Creative Action’s annual fundraiser and presented at Southwestern University and SXSW EDU 2018, where he spoke on a panel with local and national non-profit arts leaders. In the presentation at SXSW Isaiah shared, “throughout my life I’ve been told to be quiet, to stop talking and to start focusing,” but he has learned that “my voice uplifts my community and my voice deserves to be heard.” Through his work in Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble over the past five years, Isaiah has honed his skills as a youth leader working at the intersection of violence prevention and theatre for social change. Over the years he has contributed to the creation of five original plays, which have been toured across the greater Austin area (including Manor, Pflugerville, Del Valle, and Westlake) to over 17,500 middle school students, faculty, and community members.
Over the years Isaiah has become the unofficial “Changing Lives Ambassador” by embodying all of the aspects of our program in his words, actions, and ideology. For these reasons he was promoted to Peer Leader over the last two seasons — a role that carries increased responsibility and facilitation of group discussion and activities with his peers. Isaiah has excelled in this role for many reasons. He believes in justice, equity, and respect for all people. In rehearsal, Isaiah goes out of his way to make all people feel welcome and appreciated. He is the first to shake anyone’s hand that comes through our doors and regularly can be found stepping out to console or uplift a troubled cast member. Through his heartfelt actions and caring words, he is actively challenging male stereotypes and living as a role model for positive masculinity. He has also taught guest workshops for our ensemble about toxic masculinity and helped his ensemble members reimagine what healthy masculinity can look like.
In the future Isaiah hopes to work as an educator working with youth to create theatre for social change. We have no doubt his passion, empathy, and generosity will drive him to connect deeply with his students and inspire change throughout the community.
My Voice Poem by Isaiah Rogers
performed at SXSW EDU 2018 | By Isaiah Devon Rogers
My name is Isaiah Devon Rogers
Most of my life I’ve been told BE QUIET!
I’ve been told to stop talking and start focusing.
Teachers say things like:
“Can you keep it down?”
“How do you expect to go anywhere with that behavior?”
“Can you even hear yourself?”
“Your voice is a distraction.”
When I’m silenced
My voice is a forgotten topic
Broken wind chimes dangling in the wind
As the volume fades, I fade
Careful not to speak up
Only adding to the quiet fuzz of the classroom static
My voice is not a distraction
My voice is a game changer, a change maker.
My voice is a whole movement, a tidal wave.
My voice resonates my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams.
My voice is my perspective
my voice is to be understood and understands
my voice uplifts my community.
my voice consoles a friend.
My name is Isaiah Devon Rogers
My voice deserves to be heard.
Advocate of the Year
This award recognizes an adult ally who partners with young people, is a leader for violence prevention in their community, and has made prevention programming more accessible because of their efforts.
Ellie Truan | 2019 Advcoate of the Year
Ellie’s colleagues wrote these words to describe her:
Ellie Truan’s dedication towards creating a cultural change in our community around what constitutes domestic violence and sexual assault has generated a greater awareness of Comal County Crisis Center’s services and presence. Her diligent work in prevention and education is challenging commonly held misconceptions and biases and publicly challenging (through news outlets, the Crisis Center’s Facebook page, other social media, workshops, and presentations) her community to think more deeply about concepts such as toxic masculinity, rape culture, and more. She continues to host workshops for parents/guardians and their teens/children. She has created a safe space for conversations to begin around concepts of healthy sexuality, boundaries, consent, and more in attempt to jump start the dialogue and provide the adolescents in our community a lifetime advocate in their parent. Through the Crisis Center, Ellie is also providing a more holistic approach with parenting and children in our shelter. This approach provides our shelter residents with a sense of connectedness to the community and a wrap-around approach to enhance sustainability. She has truly fostered a sense of trust in the community. Clients that once believed their trauma and their experience were not worthy of services are now coming forward. They have come to understand the false narratives of unworthiness. They also appreciate the critical impact the Crisis Center’s services can have on the recovery process.
Every day, Ellie exemplifies social advocacy in her stance against teen dating violence; she has made relationships with principals, teachers, social workers, and students that allow her to reach them on a remarkable level. She continues to feed Comal County youth with knowledge and creates safe spaces for them to open up and feel comfortable with themselves. Prevention is a constant need in school systems and children’s lives. The job is never done for Prevention Specialists. As Ellie continues to raise awareness and form new relationships, she will continue to positively impact even more children’s lives.
Texas Partner for Change
Every February, the country recognizes Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. In honor of the observation, TCFV recognizes a Texas Partner for Change. This award recognizes a community leader or organization whose partnerships and efforts have given voice to violence prevention and have inspired systemic or community-wide change across the state of Texas.
Texas School Safety Center| 2019 Texas Partner for Change
TCFV’s 2019 Texas Partner for Change is the Texas State University Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC). The TxSSC has been a long-time partner with TCFV, helping to increase school safety and the responsiveness to survivors of dating violence. TxSSC has partnered with TCFV to design a dating violence curriculum that will be deployed statewide in summer 2019. The new curriculum has been designed for School Resource Officers to be fully equipped with knowledge and strategies to respond to issues of dating violence, bullying, and sexual assault.
The TxSSC is a unique organization that strives to build safer school communities through a variety of projects and strategic relationships. The TxSSC is an official university-level research center at Texas State University, tasked in Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code and the Governor’s Homeland Security Strategic Plan with key school safety initiatives and mandates. Specifically, the TxSSC serves as a clearinghouse for the dissemination of safety and security information through research, training, and technical assistance for K-12 schools and junior colleges throughout the state of Texas. In addition, the TxSSC also builds partnerships among youth, adults, schools, law enforcement officers, and community stakeholders to reduce the impact of tobacco on all Texans through prevention, training, and enforcement initiatives. Their work on school safety with the shooting at Santa Fe High School also made them a strong contender for the award.
Millennials Against Violence
Millennials Against Violence (MAV) was started because Hamza Iqbal (right) and Nyle Kafeel (left) wanted to take action against domestic violence as the members of the younger generation. Their goal with MAV is to raise awareness about domestic violence, which will be achieved by the chapters they have opened around Plano, Texas.
They have clubs at Plano East Senior High and Plano West Senior High. Their clubs are approved by the school district and are currently active. They discuss violence prevention strategies, teen dating violence, and healthy relationships. With the creation of their clubs, they hope to see more of their peers becoming involved with the cause.
Teen Dating Violence School Policies
Supporting healthy relationships and preventing dating violence goes together with school safety. In Texas every school district is required under Section 37.0831 of the Texas Education Code to have dating violence policies. Beginning in 2007, these required policies charge each district with creating a holistic response to dating violence that includes policies that address intervention efforts such as counseling, safety planning, and enforcement of protective orders as well as prevention-based responses including awareness education for teachers, student’s parents, and administrators. These are also often complemented by the implementation of multi-session primary prevention programming.
How are the schools in your district implementing these requirements? This is a question that all members of the school community — teacher, students, parents and administrators alike — should be able to answer. Some schools have taken meaningful steps to provide protections for students experiencing dating violence by a current or former partner, while many others still must implement a holistic policy and accompanying response.
These intervention, and prevention, based policies can have a lifesaving effect on school communities. Consider the case of 14-year-old Tristan Dilley. Tristan was killed by her boyfriend, 19-year-old Paul Adams, on October 1, 2017 in Buna, TX. Did Tristan have access to information about dating violence? Did Tristan know who she could go to for help? Did Tristan know when she started dating Paul what a potential red flag for abusive behavior was in a relationship? Did Paul show any signs of abusive behavior when he was in school that could have led his school to connect him with intervention services? Sadly, Tristan is just one of five teens who were murdered in Texas by abusive dating partners in 2017. This trend continues from years past: in 2016 eight teens were killed, in 2015 four teens were murdered, and 2014 five teens lost their lives. That is 22 teens murdered at the hands of their intimate partner in just four years.
If you work with a school, you may be wondering, “how do I get started implementing or advocating for these policies in my school community to prevent these tragedies?” First, it is important to know that dating violence policies should be more than words on a page. Awareness and prevention education are critical to school and student safety! If your district needs to act on developing these policies, or implementing the awareness education, the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) is ready to assist with training and resources. TCFV has model policies school districts can utilize so they are not starting from scratch. Furthermore, TCFV can provide intensive training for a variety of school-based professionals to understand how to put the words in a policy into action. If advocating for these policies needs to be the first step, TCFV can help you strategize how to encourage your school community to act on these 11-year-old mandates.
The most important component to any school dating violence policy is the school’s engagement with the local family violence program. Family violence programs across Texas would also love to partner with you directly in your community to address the various components of a dating violence policy, including providing primary prevention programming. Primary prevention aims to dismantle the roots of teen dating violence and change culture that upholds these actions.
To further your knowledge of these policies, their implementation, and the locations of family violence programs near you, use your smartphone and scan the QR codes below to learn more. You can also contact the Prevention or Policy Teams at TCFV on our Technical Assistance Line for further support and guidance: 1-800-525-1978.
Adult Primary Prevention
Primary prevention, stopping violence before it happens, is a beautiful concept. It paints a picture that the world can rid itself of hate and become a place where everyone feels safe. It creates a hope that people can live a life fearless of being hurt by a stranger or someone they love. Currently, prevention efforts focus around educating young people to recognize red flags in relationships, how to communicate in a healthy way, and how to have equitable relationships of all types in hopes that the future generations can live in a healthier society. Although these efforts are critically important, they often do not acknowledge so many people who are no longer in a school setting. That being said, what is prevention doing for those who have already been through their years of education? Encouraging adults in primary prevention is often difficult work and yet, incredibly necessary.
Prevention work is frequently centered around discussions that challenge attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that perpetuate gender-based violence. These conversations can be uncomfortable and difficult, especially when a person has sat with their own beliefs for many years. Trainings, such as active bystander intervention trainings, can help prevention educators feel equipped in starting dialogs that challenge harmful gender stereotypes with adults. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has an online, interactive training for adults becoming active bystanders within their own circle of influence. In addition, there are many different curriculums supporting active bystander behavior. For more information, please visit the TCFV curriculum database or reach out to the TCFV prevention team.
Once an educator feels equipped for these types of conversations with adults, where do they go? Many adults seem impossibly busy with their work, families and lives which makes getting together a group feel impossible. Nonetheless, adults crave connection just as much as young people do. Reaching out to teachers, parents / guardians of students you are already working with, community organizations, churches and even work places can be helpful when trying to find a group of adults to meet with. It will take time, but building relationships with organizations and communities where adults already meet will eventually allow prevention educators the chance to engage in these critical conversations.
Creating online opportunities for discussion also provide unique means to connect with adults and build community. When challenging beliefs, behaviors and attitudes that support violence, conversations can get heated, especially online. Yet, challenging the beliefs and behaviors that support violence wherever they exist feels like a responsibility for many educators. Although changing the narrative in an online environment is a challenge, there are ways to approach this task. Writing blogs on societal beliefs that are harmful is a great way to push the prevention message into the world for an adult audience. Posting information and posters that challenge stereotypes and attitudes can also be used to expand people’s knowledge of the issues. There are several online resources already available and accounts that can be created with the purpose of creating a safe place where people can interact as well as support social norms change. If used appropriately, social media is a fantastic way to create community to engage and support adults in confronting gender-based violence.
Working with adults in primary prevention is a challenge. Yet, working with adults is critical in changing the culture into one that no longer supports violence. As Prevention Educators begin to focus on working with adults, there are two last critical thoughts to remember: 1) it takes time to build relationships and 2) you are not alone. Just as with students, adults must feel they are in a safe place to have challenging conversations; and just as prevention promotes connections, educators need their own support systems. For support, information and resources, reach out to the TCFV Prevention Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Houston Astros Awareness Poster
This fall, the Astros Foundation worked with the Prevention Team at TCFV to develop a poster campaign to raise awareness about intimate partner violence. These posters were displayed on the back of every restroom stall in Minute Maid Park during the Major League Baseball playoffs.
Twila Carter, Executive Director of the Astros Foundation, says,
“The Astros Foundation’s commitment to install signage in the restroom stalls at Minute Maid Park was a simple, yet powerful step in communicating with the large audience that we serve. Providing access to the National Hotline number in a safe, private space is invaluable. We encourage other organizations to follow our lead … Providing access to information of available resources is key to saving lives and breaking the cycle.”
If you would like a consultation to develop prevention materials for your agency, please contact us at email@example.com.
Young Hearts Matter Toolkit | 2019 Update
In preparation for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, the TCFV Prevention team readies our Young Hearts Matter Toolkit to be sent out to schools across Texas! This year we’ve refined the toolkit, made it easier for schools to use, and updated some of the information. Check out the resources below! The toolkit is avaliable to download below.